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Pairing Food & Wine
I love to entertain, it gives me the opportunity to experiment with new wines and recipes to pair with them.  I started out reading about wine and food pairings and thought of making a complete and clear chart  with some of the suggested pairings we all hear about; “white wine with fish, red wine with meat”…etc. My personal motto has always been “eat and drink what you like together.” However, as I dug more into researching this, HOLY COW there is a lot of science involved!  So I have laid out what I found, while trying to keep it simple.
Food and wine pairing comes down to three components; flavor, taste and texture. Taste is one of the more important components in any food pairing, which breaks down to; acid, sweet, salt, bitter, oily and tannins.
Also, you don’t pair wine to a protein, you pair to preparation. You need to really think of all the ingredients and the cooking method for your recipe.  Confused yet…here is a little more help.
Creamy with creamy: creamy wines, such as Chardonnay or Viognier, matched with cream-based sauces such as pasta, poultry or creamy cheeses.  Pairing rich with rich are textures that work well with each other.  This combination is pure heaven and a wonderful treat…get inspired and play with it, recipes can be found at http://www.epicurious.com/  with wine pairing suggestions.
Acid with acid: Sauvignon Blanc is a great match for fish with a lemon sauce. If the recipe or food has lemon or other citrus in it you will want some acid to match. Some choices to pair a lemon sauce are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Riesling.  This pairing has such a mouth-watering zing.
Delicate with delicate & bold with bold: A delicate meal, such as sole with lemon butter would be completely over powered with a Cab. Instead, pair with a delicate wine such as Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc , this is simply delicious.  Bold flavors like a beef stew; a bold red like Cab or Syrah would do much better to complement the bold flavors of the dish….this is comfort eating!  
Spicy with sweet-Contrasting, the fun stuff: Pair a spicy chow mien with a Riesling or Gewurztraminer; this is a fun surprise on your taste buds, what a treat this pairing is to play with. The sweetness of the wine is offset by the spice in the food and instead of tasting sweet; you taste the fruit in the wine instead. So try pairing Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer with spicy Thai or Indian food.

Tannin to protein & fat: Tannins in wine are enhanced when paired with other tannins present in foods, so avoid pairing a big tannic wine with walnuts or chocolate! The two elements that help soften tannins in wine include protein and fat. This is why a steak is such a classic pairing for a big red wine, it has both protein and fat which help bring out the fruit in a red wine and subdue harsh tannins.  We will be exploring more on Tannins in future posts.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this, I love to entertain. I recently held a Wine and Appetizer get-together where everyone made an appetizer and brought a wine of their choice to pair.  This is not only fun for everyone to find something new, it also offers great conversation over the food and wine samplings that the guests brought.  My daughter Elise made a steak, gorgonzola and arugula Crostini; she paired this with Don Carlo Cabernet Sauvignon.  Don Carlo was a great find on our Spring Release trip to Walla Walla and it paired very well with the steak crostini.  We also had a crimini mushroom with truffle oil and bacon tart; this was paired with a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards which is very nice Pinot Noir with a beautiful color, clarity and rich balance of flavor. 
Having a wine and appetizer party is a great way to experiment with your likes, discover something new and is just good fun.  As I have previously stated……the most important thing is sharing and pairing with friends and family.  Enjoy.  Denise

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